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Maintaining Sobriety by Maintaining Gratitude

Maintaining gratitude for all the things that have contributed to our better lives in sobriety is one of the best ways to reinforce the principles of recovery. When we lose our sense of gratitude, we also lose sight of how far we have come and how many gifts we have been given as a result of staying sober. If we wish to continue living happy, joyous, and free lives in our recovery, we must always to our best to maintain our sense of gratitude.

Becoming ungrateful brings a host of other negative emotions that could negatively affect our sobriety. Gratitude keeps us happy, and when we are happy, we are less likely to forget about how fulfilling our newfound life in sobriety is. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, conducted a study of the effects of gratitude on well-being with three groups of participants. The first group wrote down things they were grateful for, the second group wrote down things that bothered them, and the third group wrote down neutral life events. Emmons and McCullough found that the “grateful” group consistently ranked a higher level of well-being, and the research suggested that “a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.” In early sobriety, when we are experiencing low mood and well-being, maintaining focus on all the things we are grateful for can help keep us happy and healthy as we continue on the journey of recovery.

Maintaining a gratitude journal, like the participants of Emmons and McCullough’s study, can be an effective tool in overcoming negative feelings in early recovery. In a 2015 Psychology Today article entitled How Gratitude Leads to a Happier Life, Dr. Melanie Greenberg explains, “writing gratitude diaries seems to be beneficial no matter what. Specific benefits of gratitude seem to depend on what you’re comparing it to, whether you are healthy or sick, how frequently and over what time period you do the practice. Just two or three weeks of filling out gratitude diaries each evening seems to improve mood, optimistic outlook, and life satisfaction, as well as making you more likely to help others. If you want to gain a health benefit from gratitude, you may need to persist with the diaries for two or three months. This practice takes only five or 10 minutes a day, but when done cumulatively, seems to reorient your mental compass towards focusing on the positive.” However, we can begin feeling mental health improvements as a result of gratitude just by thinking about all the things we appreciate and showing our appreciation to others.

Your life can become one of happiness, joyousness, and freedom in sobriety. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future on the journey of recovery. At Resilient House, the highest quality behavioral health and addictions specialists come together with spiritual guides and holistic experts to address addiction from every angle, and help you develop all the tools to achieve and maintain sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431